SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — A pedestrian pathway in San Francisco’s Ingleside neighborhood is at the center of a new fight over pushing out the homeless after fed-up neighbors built a wooden wall there.
The wall was put up on a tiny, four foot-wide pathway between Ocean Avenue and Urbano Drive. Neighbors say their backyards were littered with needles tossed over fences by drug users on the pathway and the narrow strip of concrete and steps became home to drug dealing and excrement.
They went to the city’s Department of Public Works to ask for the pathway and steps to be closed off.
“We quit walking. I used to use that pathway all the time. We quit using it when the homeless guy started using it,” said Ingleside resident David Swanson.
Neighbors also documented numerous calls to 911 and 311 over safety concerns due to incidents in the pathway, which is adjacent to backyards.
For a few days, the pathway was boarded off to all foot traffic with the blessings of the DPW. Then, different complaints came in and the pathway was opened back up to daylight and traffic.
“We have this problem before, where people have closed off the walkways like that and gone to the city–and people have to pay to close it off,” said Swanson.
The debate over sidewalk safety and public space isn’t a new one in San Francisco; just last month, neighbors in Clinton Park put large boulders down on the sidewalk to keep the homeless off of it. The boulders were removed, but frustrations continued to grow.
“At the same time, it’s a public property–how could you close it? So, I really don’t know the answer to this. This is the dilemma for our homeless because at the same time, you feel for them,” said Donnie DeLeon of Ingleside.
Another neighbor gave KPIX5 this statement:
“The neighbors of Ingleside Pathway understand that the State of California has a big homelessness problem and we are willing to should our share of that problem, but this is a public safety issue and we should not be expected to compromise on public safety.”
For now, the path is once again open, while neighbors seek a more permanent solution where there are no easy answers.